Invictus Games 2017: Cycling
The Invictus Games cycling event began on September 26, and ended the following day with more turns, twists, and screaming cycles of all kinds in scenic High Park, here in Toronto than you could shake a stick at. Team U.S. only had to cross over the border and turn into the woods to put their skills on display.
The Invictus Games embody the spirit of the members of the United States Armed Forces and are a testament to their strength, personal courage and inspirational attitude. Service members are trained to adapt to their environment, but they must also be given the proper equipment. In Paralympic-style cycling, athletes compete on either a road bike, hand cycle, recumbent bike, or tandem bike.
These are the first Invictus Games for U.S. Army veteran Sean Johnson. Johnson is legally blind and competes with his guide Greg Miller in the tandem bike category. He says his Invictus experience has been awesome. “It’s like Warrior Games (DoD) at a whole different level,” said Johnson. “This is really athletes at their best.”
The most eye-opening experience for Johnson has been meeting soldiers from other countries and sharing treatment practices with them. “I find it interesting to see how they recover, because to me, we have a good recovery program,” he explained. The differences and similarities of treatment are intriguing to him.
Johnson believes sports and competition were and continue to be critical to his recovery and health. Cycling is something he is accustomed to. “Being blind gives me an avenue; it’s a sport that gives me an ability to participate in something I did before losing my sight,” said Johnson. “Cycling is something I can do with someone as a team, which is important to me. It’s something I haven’t experienced since I was injured.”
Cycling is not the only adaptive sport that Johnson is involved in. “I swim and throw the shot put and discus,” said Johnson. And yes, he runs track. Johnson is a quiet, humble man who doesn’t talk about his accomplishments. Here at the Invictus Games, Johnson competed in the IT6 category of the 1500 meter run. The category is for visually impaired athletes and they run with what is called a guide or tether with another individual. Johnson won the gold medal in this event.
The 2017 Invictus Games symbolize to all wounded, ill and injured service members and veterans across the nation and around the world that individuals can recover from serious injury or illness and lead fulfilling, productive and inspiring lives.
Surprisingly, there are service members and veterans who are unaware of adaptive sport programs in their area. If Johnson had an opportunity to speak with those oblivious to its merits, he said he would definitely tell them to get involved. “Find a sport that you like and get into it,” he said. “It’s enjoyable, it’s a challenge, and it is something that will help you forget about the aches and pains and recover quicker.”